Ten Questions with Piaggio's VP of Design, Miguel Galluzzi

Steering Moto Guzzi into the future

Moto Guzzi is experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Like most Italian motorcycle companies, it’s gone through several near-death episodes, most recently in the mid-2000s when Guzzi ownership by Aprilia was in financial turmoil, unit production was near historical lows, and Piaggio's ownership had yet to make in impact on Guzzi

But a recent ride on Guzzi’s impressive new California models (read the review here) has given us optimism about Guzzi’s future. In attendance during the California’s stateside introduction was none other than the man responsible for Moto Guzzi’s spate of exciting recent models: Miguel Galluzzi.

Moto Guzzi California Custom Nero Basalto

The Argentine-born designer graduated from the highly respected Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and first made a name for himself in the early 1990s with the creation of Ducati’s Monster line during his 15-plus-year tenure working at Cagiva/Ducati.

Galluzzi switched Italian camps in 2006 when he became Aprilia’s Styling Director, helping author the Dorsoduro, Shiver and RSV4 models. Now promoted to the Piaggio Group’s VP of Design, Galluzzi’s latest work is seen in the redesigned Moto Guzzi V7s (Racer, Special and Stone) as well as the Stelvio.

In a somewhat surprising turn, Galluzzi moved in 2012 to Pasadena near his alma mater to assume control of Piaggio's new Advanced Design Center. The new facility works closely with Piaggio’s main style center in Italy as well as research and development centers in Italy, China, India and Vietnam. This network forms part of what Piaggio calls an “intelligence globalization” policy.

“It’s a melting pot of cultures and it’s a melting pot of engineering and new thinking,” says Galluzzi. We explored his thoughts on Guzzi in 10 questions seen below.

What’s Moto Guzzi’s position in the market?
Moto Guzzi is right now in a position of privilege. People are fed up with the same old crap – plastic and stuff. They want real things, and Moto Guzzi has always been real and will remain real for a long time.

Miguel Galluzzi

How does Moto Guzzi compare to other motorcycle brands?
Guzzi is Guzzi. We don’t need to look around. Guzzi is Italian bikes at their best. We don’t need to go fast. Aprilia goes fast. With Guzzi you enjoy the ride and the brand has values that have no price.

Do you consider the new California to be a cruiser?
To me, Triumph tried to make a cruiser for the United States. Guzzi makes the California not for the United States but for everyone else because the California has been an icon for Guzzi for a very long time.

What’s the future of Moto Guzzi?
Right now we are building one brick at a time because 2005 was not a good year for Guzzi. But now we are building something, and as long as we are coherent with the brand, anything is possible.

Who is the Guzzi customer?
With the V7 Racer we have been able to catch the imagination of 35-year-olds who before would never look at a Guzzi. So, for the new Guzzi, I think it’s going to be the 35- to 45-year-olds, and that’s the direction we are going. But the person, himself, first understands what Italian motorcycles are about.

What’s significant about Moto Guzzi?
We (modern society) have lost the craftsmanship of being hand-made in many things, but Italian bikes are going to keep it. You go to Mandello del Lario (location of the Guzzi factory), and these bikes are produced in the same place for the last 90 years. Yes, the building has been renovated, but that handmade feeling of these bikes remains.

What’s different at Moto Guzzi since Piaggio purchased the company?
The mentality has changed. Before it was ‘We did it, it’s done.’ And now it’s ‘We do it correctly or we don’t do it.’ It’s a good shift and why you see bikes like this (motioning towards the new California 1400 model) and the V7. So this is our new way and we’re going in the right direction.

Does Piaggio want to turn Guzzi into an Italian Honda?
I think it’s the other way around. I think Honda is having visions of becoming Moto Guzzi because Guzzi does not have to make 1.5 million bikes for good business. We only need to produce 25,000 to 35,000 very well-made bikes, and maybe even that’s too many.

What influence do you take from Guzzi’s history?
My first image I have of Guzzi was the first time I saw a picture of the first Le Mans (in the 1970s) with its red fairing, Brembo calipers and Marzocchi fork. The Japanese bikes were coming, but that mixture of stuff and beauty that you dream of is still there and it’s something that few brands have and it’s amazing.

Is Moto Guzzi the Harley-Davidson of Italy?
To me, Harley-Davidson is not a cruiser. They’ve been making bikes forever and it’s the marketing people that invented the title ‘cruiser.’ Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle, Triumph is an English motorcycle, and Moto Guzzi is an Italian motorcycle. There is something with each of these brands that goes beyond what is a cruiser.

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